Double Check

Double Check

Above: Double Check in Zuccotti Park. Sculpture (c) J. Seward Johnson.

As businessman

Double Check is by J. Seward Johnson, who's famous for his extremely realistic sculptures of normal people living normal lives. Here a businessman checks his notes (on Merrill Lynch letterhead) before heading off to a meeting. In his dress and grooming he's perfectly modern: it's only the clunky calculator and tape recorder in the briefcase that date him.

This piece was loaned by Seward to Merrill Lynch and set up in 1982 in Liberty Park, just east of the World Trade Center.

As memorial

After September 11, 2001, Double Check became a makeshift memorial to the 3,000 who died when the Twin Towers fell. Seward made a cast of Double Check, welded to it casts of the tokens that had been left there (flowers, candles, notes), and used a gray patina to suggest the gray ash of 9/11. That piece (titled Makeshift Memorial) sits in Jersey City, facing the Financial District.

Makeshift Memorial

Above: Makeshift Memorial, in Jersey City near the Exchange Place PATH station. Sculpture (c) J. Seward Johnson.

The original Double Check was refurbished and now sits facing the site of the World Trade Center.

The Daytonian in Manhattan blog has an excellent article on Double Check, with a heartbreaking, eerie photo of it on 9/12/2001.

Other Seward sculptures in New York

The Right Light: an artist at work, 34th Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenue, in front of the Dumont Plaza Hotel.

Taxi! (1983), a businessman in a hurry, northwest corner of Park Avenue and East 47th St.

Out to Lunch (1977): originally on the west side of the former Exxon Building (Sixth Ave. between 49th and 50th Streets). I was told years ago that it would be back soon, but the boy reading the book seems to be on permanent leave.


Forgotten Delights: The Producers includes a discussion of how Seward's work differs from that of George Segal, who also "sculpted" ordinary people. (You may be familiar with Segal's Commuters in Port Authority.)

The lines quoted in the @NYCsculpture tweet of 4/14/15 are from Berton Braley's "Business Is Business":

"Business is Business," the Big Man said,
"A battle to make of earth
A place to yield us more wine and bread
More pleasure and joy and mirth ...

Read the full poem (and see some wonderful recent art!) here.